Something that you may have heard of but not really understood is the term mindfulness. Like the word vulnerability it has become a buzzword in the field of psychology lately. So even if you don’t know what it is, you’ve probably heard it before. In the most basic terms, mindfulness is a strategy that one can learn that helps with a variety of mental illnesses and just general life stress. It is being able to examine what is going on (thoughts, feelings, sensations) and can be applied both internally and externally. Oftentimes when our minds are racing or we find ourselves triggered we can lose track of where we are and instead end up in a memory. Mindfulness helps to bring us back to the present and focus on the moment that we are in.
So now that we know what mindfulness is and why we might want to use it, how can we practice it and get good at it? Well here are 3 ways that I personally like to practice mindfulness and also have fun at the same time.
1. Birdwatching: being out in nature is a great way to get mindful. Specifically with birdwatching you are training your attention to the surroundings and focusing so that you can see something cool. This brings you right into the present and you also get to notice cool things that otherwise would pass by unnoticed.
2. Sensory eating: try engaging all of your senses while eating something. It can be a piece of candy, a chip, anything. But focus on how it smells, tastes, sounds, looks, feels. Try to describe it as if someone has never even heard of that particular food before.
3. Fun breathing: focusing on your breathing can be a good way to get more into your body and the present moment. There are tons of different breathing techniques that you can use but one of my favorite ones is to imagine yourself blowing up a balloon. You can hold your hands and imagine the balloon expanding between them as you breathe out. (Also, I know this one might sound silly but try to embrace it!)
Overall, mindfulness is a very helpful tool but it can be super hard to do. That’s why practice is important. The more you try mindfulness, the easier it will get! Hopefully these three strategies will allow you to practice mindfulness in a way that seems more accessible.